Jurong market fire

Jurong market fire: Nothing’s left, say stallholders

A fireman spraying water to dampen any hot spots that remain after the blaze in Jurong West Street 41 had been put out. About 300 residents from the surrounding blocks were evacuated.
A fireman spraying water (above) to dampen any hot spots that remain after the blaze in Jurong West Street 41 had been put out. About 300 residents from the surrounding blocks were evacuated.PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN, LIANHE WANBAO
A fireman spraying water to dampen any hot spots that remain after the blaze in Jurong West Street 41 had been put out. About 300 residents from the surrounding blocks were evacuated.
A fireman spraying water to dampen any hot spots that remain after the blaze in Jurong West Street 41 had been put out. About 300 residents from the surrounding blocks were evacuated.PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN, LIANHE WANBAO

Two of them say they recently spent thousands of dollars doing up their units

Stallholders at a wet market and two coffee shops in Jurong West were left counting their losses after their stalls and equipment were damaged in a fire yesterday morning.

Miss Lai Long Mei, 43, who sells soya bean milk and soya bean curd in the wet market at Block 493, said she recently spent $3,000 on new tables and chairs, and $600 on advertising boards.

"I also had $200 to $300 in the till, but now it's all gone up in flames," she said. "I have a very heavy heart now. Everything is gone."

While she had bought insurance for her shop, she said "very few" stall owners at the wet market did so as they had been there for decades and nothing like this had happened before.

Also lamenting his losses was Mr Lim Kim Chal, 35, who owns a seafood stall at a coffee shop in Block 494 which was badly damaged.

 
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He had opened for business just over a month ago and spent $250,000 on equipment such as a refrigerator and utensils.

"The air vent has completely fallen from the ceiling, and even the claypots melted," he said. "Our 20 to 30 crabs also died in the fire."

He said he would have to see what his insurance company says, before knowing the extent of his losses.

Another affected hawker was Mr David Chang, 24, who owns a roast duck stall at the Block 494 coffee shop.

"Our cooking stoves have all been damaged and can't be used any more, and our signboard is completely burnt," he said.

Madam Noorlin Rahman, 50, who runs a 24-hour stall selling Malay food at the same coffee shop, said she was alerted to the fire by a worker on duty. There were explosions as the fire raged, and she said that could be because there were refrigerators and many sources of gas in the wet market.

Mr Derek Tan, owner of the Block 494 coffee shop, said it will be closed until further notice, as there was a problem structurally, such as with the unstable air vents.

He said he would ask the authorities for permission to let his nine tenants relocate to some of his other coffee shops temporarily.

Permission is needed because their permits are registered to fixed addresses.

Mr Tan estimated that damage from the fire would amount to at least $200,000. He intends to file a claim with his insurance company.

He said: "The investigations and any renovation work might take quite a while, even months, so until then we can't do business here."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'Nothing's left, say stallholders'. Print Edition | Subscribe